Research from Robert Half has found Australian employers find it significantly more challenging to train and hire staff to implement new technologies compared to their global peers. While business leaders understand the importance of training to assist with adapting and implementing new technologies within their organisations, many think their efforts could be hampered by organisational challenges. Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) Australian managers anticipate challenges in upskilling staff to adapt to new technology, well above the global average of 78 per cent.
On a national level, the research shows that the three biggest barriers Australian leaders face with their employees are resistance to change (33 per cent), insufficient training for employees (33 per cent) and the effort or cost to implement new technologies being greater than the benefits (32 per cent).
“While technology is the driver behind business transformation, it is human capital that will determine its success,” says Andrew Morris, Director of Robert Half Australia. “Particularly in our market, where 40 per cent of the workforce faces a high probability of being replaced by computers in the coming 15 years, it’s an economic imperative for employees and business alike to be agile and responsive to new technologies in order to remain viable, competitive, and profitable.”
Morris goes on to say that the research suggests that Australia’s adoption of new technologies will be most challenged by the cultural and behavioural obstacles its own human capital presents in the form of an unwillingness to accept and adapt to the future of work, as opposed to functional considerations like the implementation of IT infrastructure.
In order to counter employee resistance to technological change, more Australian organisations have turned to peer-to-peer knowledge transfer initiatives than their global counterparts. This includes working with a mentor (39 per cent compared to global average of 33 per cent) and knowledge transfer from contractors or other subject matter experts to staff (40 per cent compared to global average of 36 per cent). Other initiatives include in-person training through seminars and courses (40 per cent) and online study (39 per cent).
Australian business leaders are also looking to augment their existing workforce with fresh talent in order to build more agile workforces that are responsive to the benefits of new technology. However, in a skills-short market, this is not without challenges – 78 per cent of Australian business leaders believe it is challenging to source professionals skilled in the new technologies their company will be implementing, above the global average of 71 per cent.
In response to this, leaders are embracing a flexible staffing model. In order to provide support and have access to specialised skills on an as-needed basis, Australian businesses are significantly more likely than their global peers to hire additional contract or interim staff who are subject matter experts (38 per cent vs global average 31 per cent) or hire new temporary staff with the requisite skills (34 per cent vs. global average of 31 per cent).